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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 9

Blackhawks vs Penguins: Week 9's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Teams are starting to approach 30 games played, but no team has firmly separated themselves from all others. The Metropolitan Division still has several teams fighting for position. Other than Vancouver, the Western Conference is starting to figure out which of its eight teams will play past 82 games. Seeding everywhere is still very much up for grabs, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, November 4, before the day’s games:

West

Central Division

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs #W2 Phoenix Coyotes

Through 29 games, the Blackhawks are the first team to pass 100 goals (105). The Coyotes have hit 91, but will still have trouble keeping up with Chicago’s pure offense. Neither side is the best with defense, so this series looks to be high-scoring. Chicago is also the first team to 11 road wins, so Phoenix will be extra pressed to keep up.

#2 St Louis Blues vs #3 Colorado Avalanche

Even after two losses, the Blues are in a good position, but Colorado is now right back in there with them. While both teams have good defenses, Colorado could be better on offense. The Blues have done quite well in that respect, and have 11 home wins to show for it. It will be difficult for both teams to make headway against each other’s goaltending, but St Louis seems to be better equipped for the job right now.

Pacific Division

#1 San Jose Sharks vs #W1 Minnesota Wild

Much like the previous match-up, Minnesota‘s lesser offense is keeping them down for the moment, while San Jose‘s combination of offense and defense has them right in contention for the lead in the highly competitive West. Minnesota has also been iffy on the road so far, which makes San Jose an attractive first-round pick.

#2 Anaheim Ducks vs #3 Los Angeles Kings

Anaheim has lost two shootouts in a row now; they’ve been having a tough time lately, but have scored at least a point in every home game. Still, with the Kings‘ defense and Anaheim’s hit-or-miss play, it’ll be tough for Anaheim to hold off the Kings for seven games.

East

Metropolitan Division

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #W2 Toronto Maple Leafs

The Penguins have the most comfortable division lead in the NHL, while the Maple Leafs have continued sliding down the standings. Even the slightest hint of weakness could spell doom against a team as dangerous as Pittsburgh, which puts Toronto in a bad place.

#2 Washington Capitals vs #3 New York Rangers

The Rangers are the only playoff team with a negative goal differential, and are only 5-6-0 at home. The Capitals are only 5-5-2 on the road, but they can score at a greater clip than the Rangers. That should be enough for the Capitals, though expect it to be a lengthy series.

Atlantic Division

#1 Boston Bruins vs #W1 Tampa Bay Lightning

The Bruins have 12 home wins, most in the NHL, while the Lightning are a measly 5-6-3 on the road. The Lightning will need to be at their best to crack Tuukka Rask, and even if Steven Stamkos is back in time, Tampa may not be able to muster enough.

#2 Montreal Canadiens vs #3 Detroit Red Wings

Detroit has won four in a row by a combined score of 18-4, though most of their damage continues to be on the road. However, the Canadiens aren’t slouching, and are more than capable of winning back home-rink advantage if necessary. Montreal’s great defense is a huge part of that as well, so look for that trait to be a difference maker.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • With Pittsburgh up against Boston and San Jose, Boston could very well end up back on top of the East.
  • Hosting Phoenix gives Vancouver a great chance to get a spot back.

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